Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What Does a Look Say?

Open-eyed . . .

droopy-lidded . . .

or squinting eyes . . .

What do these eyes say? A writer knows how a character looks at someone has a ton of context around it loaded with feelings. 

If a character looks away there's a reason. It can mean that the character isn't certain about what he/she is saying.

If a character gazes at another who is talking that could mean they're listening and depending upon the context of the story they may or may not believe what is being said.

And if the character who is talking looks directly at the person with whom they are talking, this could be a sign of certainty.

Sometimes an author feels challenged describing how a character sees. They are hemmed in with descriptions such as  look, gaze, stare, glimpse, glanced, and etc., but remember it's the context of what is happening to the character within the confines of the story that reflects the intent of your character. 

Your character may be open-eyed, droopy-lidded, or have squinting-eyes, but it's the feelings behind those eyes that tell the tale.

What are your main character's eyes like? What is the context of his/her gaze?



  1. The right look can make an entire scene.

    Love this.

  2. Bethany,
    So true. Have you seen Pride and Prejudice, the old, long A&E version, and the look Mr. Darcy gives Lizzie when she's turning the music for his sister? It gets me every time. In fact, maybe I'll pull that movie out and watch it tonight.

  3. I love these visuals Kathi. Make me want to describe each one in a scene.


  4. Thanks, L'Aussie!
    I've wondered what kind of story would go along with the droopy-lidded eyes. Might be fun to give it a try.

  5. I love the eye concept. Eyes tell a lot about a person, especially our characters. I just have to be careful not to overuse this concept, which I tend to do.

  6. Great post. I love the photos - especially the one of the little girl. She's so cute!

  7. I have lots of eyes and gazing and looking and squinting and... tons of it. Makes a big difference in my writing. =)

  8. Susan,
    Thanks for the good word of caution. Eyes can be overused, but that's why the context around them is so important. A writer needs to set the stage. :)

  9. Carol,
    She is so cute I had to include her. The eyes say everything in that picture, but the trick is to describe her. Don't know if I could do it her justice. :)

  10. Carolyn,
    The eyes do make a huge difference in writing. I think it's because we're such a visual society that we're drawn to them. :)

  11. Great post. I love using eyes in writing.

    Hello from the campaign trail!

  12. Thanks, Juliana!

    It's great to meet you on the trail. :)

  13. Hey Kathi, I'm in your suspense/thriller campaign group. This post about "looks" really resonated with me. While I was editing my current WIP, I noticed my main characters were constantly "looking" at each other, so I chopped a lot of them out. It's definitely about keeping the important ones that say something rather than having them happen all the time.

  14. Jocelyn,
    I'm glad you liked it. I'm always trying to weed "look" out of my manuscripts. It's one of my favorite go-to words.

    Thanks for stopping by. The campaign has been great for meeting new blogging friends.



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